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Artist smashes $1M vase in Miami museum — on purpose

Published February 17, 2014 3:10 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Miami • A South Florida artist is facing a criminal charge after police say he smashed a $1 million vase at Miami's new art museum in what appears to be a form of protest.

Maximo Caminero, 51, was charged with criminal mischief after Sunday's incident at the Perez Art Museum Miami. According to a Miami Police Department arrest affidavit, a security guard told officers that Caminero picked up a colored vase by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. When told to put it down, the security guard said Caminero smashed it on the floor.

A police affidavit says Caminero told officers he broke the vase to protest the museum's lack of local artist displays. Caminero, a painter who lives in Miami, declined comment when reached by telephone Monday. He said he will have an afternoon news conference Tuesday.

"I'm going to answer all the questions," he said.

The police affidavit lists the value of the vase as $1 million, quoting the museum's security officials. Criminal mischief can be a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison when the property damaged is worth more than $1,000.

Caminero had a recent showing at the JF Gallery in West Palm Beach that offered a patrons a chance to meet him and "view a sampling of the work from his 30-year career as an artist."

According to PAMM's web site, the vase is one of more than a dozen that are part of a floor installation. Each vase is partially painted in bright colors.

Behind the installation are a series of three black-and-white photos showing Ai holding a vase and then letting it drop to the ground, smashing into pieces.

The Ai Weiwei: According to What? exhibit runs through March 16 at the museum. Museum officials did not immediately respond Monday to emails seeking comment.

A sculptor, designer and documentary-maker, Ai has irked Beijing by using his art and online profile to draw attention to injustices in China and the need for greater transparency and rule of law. He was detained for 81 days in 2011 during crackdown on dissent,

After his release in June 2011, Ai's design firm was slapped with a $2.4 million tax bill, which he fought unsuccessfully in the Chinese courts.

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